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When I was figuring out what my fall semester would look like over the summer, I did not expect to take the semester off from school. Like many college students around the world, I struggled to make decisions about classes. My mind was all over the place figuring out different scenarios in my head as to whether I should:  A.) Attempt to go back to campus,  B.) Take classes online from home, or  C.) Take the semester off completely. I created hypothetical situations for each option, comparing the pros and cons, and after much thought, I decided to take the semester off completely. As a junior, I was not sure if this would make sense, but I figured with all of the unknowns around COVID, taking the semester off could be beneficial. I also realized that taking a semester off meant that I would need to make the most out of it for it to be worth it, so here are some tips on how to make the most out of a semester off from college during COVID.

Be Productive

Do something with this time and don’t just sit around. If you are able to, look for jobs or internship experiences geared toward your interests that are offered in-person or remotely.

 

 I am looking to go to PA school after college and become a physician assistant; and, in order to apply to schools, I need to get direct patient care medical hours. With COVID there are many medical positions available and I thought the fall semester would be a good time to do this. I found a full-time job at a nursing home that provides paid training to become a CNA and while I am only two weeks into the job it has been a good fit so far. I am able to get health experience and save up money at the same time. Experience is a great way to get to know your interests and to see if the path you were interested in before is something you still want to pursue.

Engage in Hobbies

Use this time to engage in hobbies more often. I have always loved to hike, especially with my dogs, but when I am away at college, I do not have my dogs and cannot do that as much so I have taken some time to explore new trails with them and it has been a great way to relieve stress. Without school, I can spend more time with these hobbies.

Prioritize Your Physical and Mental Health

Burnout from the stress of COVID and classes is all too real and taking a semester off has allowed me to take the time to regroup without the expectations and stress that come from school. I find time to go workout outside or search for workout videos on youtube that can be done at home. I have also been able to engage in more calming activities such as coloring and focus on eating healthier and drinking more water.

Create a Post-Semester Plan

Whether this plan is for returning to school or for what you will do after your semester off, create one! It does not have to be an in-depth plan, but a guide for moving forward.

 

While I cannot predict what will happen exactly in the future, I am making a plan so I stay motivated and have some idea of what I will do after taking a semester off. I am figuring out the classes I will take in the spring and summer semesters, how to obtain certain prerequisites for PA school and future volunteer/job opportunities, so I am not scrambling to figure all of this out last minute.

COVID has definitely brought uncertainty and instability, but it has also forced me to become more flexible and to adapt to the changes in my life. The situations brought about from COVID are not ideal, but I am taking advantage of the opportunities in front of me to make this semester a positive one. Taking a semester off was definitely not an easy decision, but it has allowed me to focus on myself and to dive deeper into my interests.

 

 

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Kaitlyn Pike

St Law U '22

I am currently a junior at St. Lawrence University majoring in Biology and minoring in African Studies. In my free time I enjoy watching and playing ice hockey, hiking with my dogs, traveling, reading, and painting.
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